sent in by Ian
When I was a Christian, one of the most frightening and intimidating aspects of the faith was the dreaded judgment day, where God (or Jesus, depending on who you speak too) will judge you and send you to either heaven or hell for all eternity. What better way to keep someone in line by threatening them with a judgment?
Because I am no longer a Christian, I no longer believe in a day of judgment. In fact, I find the whole idea to be very juvenile. If you go through life seeing it as a trial, then the view of a judgment makes sense. If you go through life seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow to become a better individual, the idea of a day of judgment becomes...well...silly.
My own views on judgment are not however, the focus of this article. What I do want to call in s the fact that the whole day of judgment may not be as simple as some may think it will be (that is, if it actually happens). How so?
In January of 2006, I was just starting to go through what is commonly termed, the dark night of the soul, where one struggles to find how they fit in with the world in terms of what the believe, what they view as truth, and how they fit in with the overall scheme of things. As those who have gone through it can attest, it is not an easy time at all. It is draining emotionally because you don't know where you are going. You are, in a way, like a ship without a rudder.
Yet, as I have discovered, in the moments of greatest darkness, the wonderful spark of inspiration is at it's brightest.
One day, I was browsing a website called godandscience.org I was, needless to say, a bit baffled at what was being put forth (such as how dinosaurs went on the ark with Noah). But one page in particular caught my attention and practically made my blood boil when I read it. Here it is (originally taken from this link: http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/goingtoheaven.html).
"I am the Lord your God. Richard Deem, give me an account of your life."
"Lord, I did my best and led an exemplary life. I never was physically involved with any of my girlfriends. I was a Scout leader for years. I tried to help people in some way almost every day. I did a lot of other good things - I'm, sure you know all about them."
"Richard, have you ever lied?"
"I tried to tell the truth all the time and was almost always honest."
"Richard, have you ever lied?"
"Yes, Lord. I have lied some."
"Richard, what do you call a person who lies?"
"A liar, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say about liars?"
"It says that all liars will be sent to hell, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever taken anything that is not yours?"
"Lord, You know that I am an honest person."
"Richard, have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else?"
"Richard, what do you call someone who takes something that belongs to another?"
"A thief, Lord. I am a thief."
"Richard, what does my word say about thieves?"
"It says that no thieves will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"
"Richard, what does my word say about people who want things that belong to others?
"It says they are coveting, Lord"
"Richard, what does my word say will happen to those who covet?"
"It says that no covetous people will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever killed anybody?"
"Of course not, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever hated anybody?"
"Richard, what does my word say about people who hate others."
"It says that they are guilty of murder in their heart."
"Richard, what does that make you?"
"I'm a murderer, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever called anybody a fool?"
"Yes, Lord, but he was really stupid."
"Richard, what does my word say about people who call others a fool?"
"It says that they shall be guilty enough to go into hell."
"Richard, have you ever committed adultery?"
"Absolutely not, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever lusted after a woman?"
"Richard, what does my word say about those who lust after a woman?"
"It says that he has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
"Richard, what does that make you?"
"I am an adulterer, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"
"It says that no adulterers will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard Deem, are you ready for me to pronounce sentence?"
"Wait, Lord. What about all the good things I have done."
"Richard, are you pleading not guilty to the above crimes?"
"No, Lord. I am guilty."
What do you notice about this article? I noticed the following.
1. Richard is a wimp. He does not even try to defend himself.
2. God is a incredibly stern judge: Is this the God of love and mercy that Christians talk about? Looking over this article, my answer is no.
3. This "god" is an asshole. Why? Because this god has impossible-to-reach standards that nobody can ever, ever, ever reach. If God is supposed to be perfect, then would God be without human frailties? (That’s a subject for another time).
And here's the little afterward by the author of this article:
So, do you think you are going to get into heaven on the basis of your good behavior? The above exchange illustrates the futility of attempting to earn your way to heaven. No amount of good works is going to exonerate your guilt before the Holy God. My (and your) guilt is based upon the things we do against God's laws. It works the same way our criminal justice system works - if you are guilty of a crime, you go to jail. It doesn't matter how many good things you have done.
Now, maybe you have never done any of the things above… The rest of us realize that we have a BIG problem. I came to this realization upon reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapter 5. I realized that I needed a Savior to take away my sin. That is the only way I could appear before God without guilt. Jesus Christ died to take away my (and your) sin, so that we could be righteous before God. The Bible says you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord (i.e., boss) and Savior. This means that you repent (turn from your sin) and believe that Jesus died for your sin. You also agree to follow Jesus to become more like Him. He will give you true joy in this life and eternal life with Him afterward.
Going over this article again four months later, this has all the appearances of a cult. Threats, warnings, fear, etc. But in this case, it's an organized religion, not a cult (then again, that's debatable). If this is what fundamentalists use to gain new converts, then the collapse of Christianity cannot come soon enough.
After reading this whole article for the first time, I was frightened. Then the fear turned to being upset. And then that turned to anger at the fear this article was trying to put into me. Then it was flat-out rage. So I decided that I should do what any angry, furious person should do in a time like this...
Poke fun at the article!
After all, isn't laughter the greatest medicine? Does joy and laughter not disperse fear quickly?
And so I quickly typed out the following article, and it indeed cured me of my anger. Though I still had a few more months of the dark night of the soul to go through, at least there was a little victory that had been won.
My purpose in bringing this article before you is to show that being saved is not as clear cut as one might think. I also wish for people to consider the popular notion that God will judge everyone and only those who have heard of Jesus and accepted his offer will be saved.
And it does go without saying that if you are a follower of the Christian faith, this might be offensive to you
"I am the Lord your God. Ian, give me an account of your life."
"Hi God! Oh boy, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all my life!"
"That's good. Now, give me an account of your life."
"Well, I did my best and led the best life I could! I never was physically involved with any of my girlfriends. I was a Scout leader for years. I tried to help people in some way almost every day. I did a lot of other good things - I'm, sure you know all about them."
"Ian, have you ever lied?"
"I tried to tell the truth all the time and was almost always honest."
"Ian, have you ever lied?"
"Well, yes. I have lied sometimes."
"Ian, what do you call a person who lies?"
"Ian, what does my word say about liars?"
"You don't know?"
"Well, there is the bible...but there is also the book of Mormon, the torah, the Qur’an, etc. And each of them claimed to be the source of your wisdom. So you know, I never really got into any of them. By the way, which one was the correct one?"
"Uhh...let's not go there. What does the bible say about liars?"
"Hmm...uhh...which part? Last time I counted there were quite a lot of stuff to say about liars."
"Okay fine, what does Revelation 21:8 say about liars?"
"Hang on a sec, let me look it up...uh oh."
"What does it say?"
"It says that liars will have thier place in the fiery lake of burning sulfur."
"That is correct. Now, have you lied during your life?"
"Well, to be honest God, yes I did."
"Then i'm afraid you know what happens to those who lie."
"Wait a minute."
"What about the people who lied to save the Jewish people from the Nazis during world war 2? Are they going to hell?"
"And according to Psalm 116:11, New King James version, all men are liars. Now, I have a question for you."
"What is it?"
"Does that mean that Jesus is going to the lake of fire?"
"No he's not."
"But he was a man. Therefore, he was a liar because all men lie. The bible says it right there, clear as day."
"But I was Jesus. I took form on earth."
"You know, I never got that. But if you took on human flesh, you were therefore a man, and thus you are a liar. Does that mean that you're going to hell?"
"Uh...lets move on."
"But what about all the apostles? What about the thieves who died next to Jesus? What about..."
"Enough. Ian, have you ever taken anything that is not yours?"
"God, you know that I tried to be an honest person."
"Ian, have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else?"
"Well God, yes. When I was a young child, I did take things that did not belong to me."
"Ian, what do you call someone who takes something that belongs to another?"
"A thief, God."
"Ian, what does my word say about thieves?"
"Do we have to do this again? The bible."
"Why not the book of Mormon?"
"Let's just stay with the bible. What does it say about thieves?"
"Hmm...If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep."
"No, not that one."
"Okay...If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, would they not have stolen till they had enough? If the grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?"
"No! Go to the part about thieves not entering heaven!"
"Hmm... Where’s that? I can't find it."
"Well, it's there. Now, Ian, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"
"Hang on a second God. I did take things that belonged to me, but I eventually realized that it was wrong and I stopped doing that.
"Noted. Now, Ian, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"
"Of course. That happens to everyone at one point or another."
"Ian, what does my word say about people who want things that belong to others?
"The bible right?"
"Well, it appears to say they are coveting, God."
"Ian, what does my word say will happen to those who covet?"
"Well, it says that no covetous people will enter into heaven. So does that include every single baby who ever lived? After all, every baby at one point or another wants something that doesn't belong to them."
"Ian, have you ever killed anybody?"
"Hey wait a minute. You didn’t answer my question about the babies."
"Be quiet. Now Ian, have you ever killed anybody?"
"Of course not, God, and I’m glad."
"Ian, have you ever hated anybody?"
"Well, yes. There were a good amount of people I hated during my life on earth, but considering what they did to me, which included insulting me, putting me down and poking fun at me and my beliefs every chance they got, I’m not surprised that I did hate them. Luckily, I’m glad I got over hate later in life. Sure there was anger, but the hate was gone. I bet you're happy about that!"
"Ian, what does my word say about people who hate others."
"Hmm... Let me look it up..."
"Good grief, didn’t you ever read my word?"
"Ah, so the bible was your word?"
"Just keep looking. I haven't got all day."
"Ah, here we go. It says that they are guilty of murder in their heart."
"Ian, what does that make you?"
"That doesn't make much sense."
"Well, that doesn't make much sense. I was human and I occasionally got angry at people. I didn’t like some people, but I certainly didn’t want to kill them. Yet according to the bible, hating someone is the same as murdering someone, when it's clearly not."
"Well, I put it in there, so it's correct."
"But in Luke 14: 26, Jesus says, and I quote, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." So Jesus said that whoever wanted to be his disciple must hate his brother, yet later on John says that such a person is a "murderer" and will not go to heaven. Can you please explain that?"
"Ian, have you ever called anybody a fool?"
"God, why won't you answer my questions?"
"Because I'm God, and I'll choose to answer what questions I will answer. Now Ian, have you ever called anybody a fool?"
"Yes I did God."
"Ian, what does my word...you know, the bible, say about people who call others a fool?"
"It says that they shall be in danger of hell fire."
"Let me guess...they go to hell?"
"Ian, have you..."
"Wait a minute God."
"Jesus says that "Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
"Well, I can't help but notice that Jesus often calls his critics and disciples fools. Therefore, that means he's going to hell."
"No he's not."
"Well, you said that whoever says "You fool!" will basically go to hell. So I guess you have to send Jesus to hell now."
"Be quiet. Now Ian, have you ever committed adultery?"
"Ian, have you ever lusted after a woman?"
"Of course God. My natural hormones worked perfectly as they tried to drive me to procreate and thus continue the survival of my species. In addition, I did fantasize about having a woman and giving her all the love and care I could give her. I wanted to spread love to the world, and I did like fantasizing about that."
"Ian, what does my word say about those who lust after a woman?"
"Well, it apparently says that he has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
"Ian, what does that make you?"
"Well, I guess that means that I am an adulterer. But...if those hormones of mine drove me to fantasize about women, and you created me, then why did you give me those sex hormones in the first place?"
"To make sure you could have children."
"Well that makes sense. But if those hormones that you created when you created man increases sexual drive, then I’m not really guilty here. I was simply following my hormones. Besides, wouldn't you be happy that I wanted to care and love someone?"
"Be quiet. You are an adulterer."
"But why did you make those hormones so susceptible in the first place?"
"So you could be tested to see if you would turn away from your sinful ways."
"Wait a minute. You want me to come to you and be with you forever because you love me, right? Then why did you create those sex hormones that are so susceptible? So you could test me? Knowing full well that I would fantasize, and knowing that simply having one thought about being with a woman is enough to send me off to eternal torture, pain, and suffering? Can you please explain that?"
"Ian, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"
"You are avoiding my question God."
"Be quiet. Now Ian, what does..."
"That sounds pretty cheap. If someone has one simple daydream about being with a woman, he goes to eternal torture for all eternity, simply for following his bodily functions, which you invented if I do point out."
"Be quiet! Now, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"
"Well, it apparently says that no adulterers will enter into heaven, God."
"Ian, are you ready for me to pronounce sentence?"
"Wait a second God. What about all the good things I have done? What about all the people I’ve helped? What about all the people I’ve entertained with my jokes? What about all those who I have loved and cared for?"
"Ian, are you pleading not guilty to the above crimes?"
"You're avoiding the question."
"I'm simply asking if you are pleading not guilty to the above crimes."
"You're avoiding my question about all the good things i've done."
"Answer the question!"
"Wait a minute, I just realized something."
"According to Revelation 20, there's this bit here: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
"What is the point you are trying to make?"
"Well, if I’m being judged according to my works, then are you counting in all my good ones?"
"No. You have sinned, and are thus worthy of hell."
"Yes, I have made mistakes. I have made errors. But I learned from them and moved on."
"And you sinned more."
"Boy, you have some really strict standards here."
"I cannot tolerate sin or evil. No one with sin comes before me."
"So, that includes a five month old baby who wanted something that wasn't hers?"
"Wow. Why do you have such impossibly high standards?"
"Are you pleading not guilty or not?"
"Why can't you forgive me?"
"I'm sorry for what I did on earth. I learned from my mistakes, and I moved on from them. I'm sorry for what I did. Can you please forgive me? I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry, but it's too late. No one with sin comes into heaven with me."
"Why can't you forgive me? If you're all powerful, then surely it must be easy for you to forgive someone who is honestly sorry for what they've done."
"It's too late."
"Then apparently, you're not all powerful. I thought you were merciful."
"In some cases yes."
"Hmm... Interesting. You resemble a medieval tyrant more then anything else."
"No, I will not be quiet. I saw you throw the entire population of ancient Egypt into hell a few minutes ago because of their sins. Now, might I point out that according to your bible, the only way to go to heaven is to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. Why did you create the souls of the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Incas, and all those other civilizations who never even heard of Jesus?"
"And I saw you throw over six million Chinese families into hell half an hour ago. That's a lot of men, women, and children God. Are you pleased with chucking all those Chinese children and babies into hell because they didn’t accept Jesus’ gift of salvation?"
"I judge all people fairly."
"Wow. Your sense of justice is disgusting."
"Tough. I'm God. Now prepare for an eternity of unbearable pain and suffering."
"And that's your sense of justice? For making common human mistakes? For daydreaming about women? For being upset at people for what they did to me? For wanting something that wasn't mine?"
"Wow. You're even worse then Hitler, Stalin, and all the other evil guys in history combined. And to tell you the truth, you've got some impossibly high standards here. Why did you create imperfect creations and apparently expect them to be perfect?"
"That was why I sent my son."
"Ah, I see. So you can be the worst, most scum ridden person on the face of the earth, who murders, rapes, kills, and does terrible things, and yet you can accept Jesus and be saved."
"That is correct."
"What about those who never heard of Jesus?"
"Some will be saved, according to if they heard about Jesus or not."
"Wait a minute. According to that, it's apparently better to never hear about Jesus and be saved, rather then hearing about Jesus and running the risk of not be saved."
"And let me point this out. Ordinary people who do good works and help everybody every day in all the ways they can are condemned to eternal torture because they don't live up to your perfect standards."
"That is correct."
"Wow. You're even worse then I could have possibly imagined in my worst nightmares. A God who has impossibly high standards, yet will let people, including truly evil people, off the hook by accepting Jesus. And so they are apparently judged on their work of accepting Jesus, and thus judged on creed, not deed."
"In a way, yes."
"Wow. You're a pretty bizarre God. And people worship you? What on earth did this world come to?"
"Well, that doesn't matter now. Are you ready to go to hell?"
"No, because I’m off the hook."
"I'm off the hook, and I can prove it."
"How? You didn’t accept Jesus’ offer of salvation."
"That's true, but officially, I haven't done anything wrong."
"How do you explain that?"
"Okay, let's open the bible and take a look. At the very end of 1 John 4:7-8, it says "God is love."
"Then, in 1 Cor. 13:4-8, it says, among other things that love keeps no record of wrongs. Now, if you are love as your book claims to be, then you have no record of any wrongs that I’ve done. Therefore, I’m off the hook and I don't have to go to hell."
"Now hold on there..."
"Wait, I’m not finished yet. 1 John 2:1-2 says this. "My children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father; Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" So therefore, Jesus died for everybody. It's right there, plain as day. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. He took away the sins of everyone, and thus everyone is off the hook."
"Be quiet, I'm..."
"Oh no, not yet. I'm just getting started. "For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe", right there at 1 Timothy 4:10."
"Then we have this. "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven." at Matthew 7:21. Now, what is your will? Your will is law. And according to Luke 10:25-28, loving you and loving others is the law. Jesus said if we do this, we will live. Therefore, I loved you and I loved others, and now I am off the hook."
"And don't forget that each person will be rewarded according to his works. For example, in Matthew 16:27, we have this. "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done." Therefore, if I have done more good then bad, then I will be rewarded for that. In Romans 2:6 we find, "For he will repay according to each one's deeds." The same principle applies. If someone loves you and loves others, then they will be repaid. Now, how do you answer all these?"
"I am your parent. I am your father. I must punish my children to set them straight."
"By sending them to be tortured for eternity? What kind of sick parent does that? Because a baby wanted something that wasn't hers, you're punishing her with an eternity of torture. Ditto for those who have had a daydream about being with a woman. If I may say so, you are the worst parent in all of existence."
"Well, why are you judging me?"
"Because I am God."
"Well, according to John 5:22, "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.". So it should be Jesus judging me, not you. And don't forget that because Jesus was apparently a man, he was also a liar because all men lie. And don't forget that because he called people fools, he's also in danger of hell. I also just realized that because Jesus was also a baby, and babies inevitably want things that are not theirs, so Jesus as a baby wanted things that were not his. That's another reason you need to send him to hell."
"And I wish to point out that Jesus says in John 8:15-16, "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me." And because God is love, and love keeps no record of wrongs, and thus guides Jesus while judging, then everyone is off the hook. Now, why are you judging me and not Jesus?"
"Well, let me continue. You're throwing people into hell for all eternity, right?"
"That is correct."
"Well God, you're going to eventually let us out, right?"
"Well, don't you know that in the original texts of the bible, eternal was a word that simply meant a long period of time? That it didn’t mean, literally, for all eternity? If you don't believe me "God", then why don't you look at this nifty article I found on the internet? http://www.godstruthfortoday.org/Library/thayer/DoctrineOfEternalPunishment005.htm The Greek adjective that our English Bibles translate as "eternal" or "everlasting" is "AIÓN or AIÓNIOS" which literally means "age-enduring" or perhaps "that which pertains to an age." I thought you would know that."
"Now wait a minute..."
"And when Jesus talked about "eternal punishment" in Matthew 25:46, the punishment he talks about is not eternal in the sense that it continues forever without accomplishing its corrective purpose. So if you're throwing us into hell for all eternity and never letting us out, then...can you explain that?"
"No, no, I think I’ve heard and seen enough. You, our parent, are throwing us into eternal, never ending torture for having daydreams and a whole host of other normal conditions. You're judging everyone on how many sins they've done, not how many good deeds they've done. The real God may punish, if he punishes at all, but it's never forever. It's only until a person repents and turns to God. You, on the other hand...well, I don't know who you are."
*phases out of existence*
"Wow, that was easy. Time to get a sandwich."
Oh, and if you are curious, what was the first Christian response when I posted this at a forum?
"If you were really to have an argument with God, you would never win. God is so smart will know what you will say before you say it. He will never be surprised by what you say, and he will know response."
*Discussion follows about a perfect justice system where all who hear about Jesus and accept his gift get off scott-free without taking responsibility for their actions*
It is my hope that this article has encouraged you to think and realize that nothing is black and white when it comes to religious doctrines regarding God, judgment, and salvation.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)